June 5, 2009

“Crazy for the Storm” author says surfing may have saved his life

“On February 19, 1979, I was in a plane crash with my father; his girlfriend, Sandra; and the pilot of our chartered Cessna. Sandra was 30 years old. My dad was 43. I was 11. Just after sunrise, we slammed into a rugged 8,600-foot mountain engulfed in a blizzard. By the end of our 9-hour ordeal, I was the only survivor.”
-Norman Ollestad

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(left) photo of Norman surfing on his fathers back at age 1 by Pat Solomon (Right) Book Cover Photograph by Mark McEvoy/MILLENNIUM; Design by Allison Saltzman

Chances are, if you’re at the Quiksilver blog, you have some sort of relationship with Surfing. The same goes for Norman Ollestad, author of “Crazy for the Storm.”

From the age of three, Norman Ollestad was thrust into the world of surfing and competitive downhill skiing by the intense, charismatic father he both idolized and resented. While his friends were riding bikes, playing ball, and going to birthday parties, young Norman was whisked away in pursuit of wild and demanding adventures. Yet it was these exhilarating tests of skill that prepared “Boy Wonder,” as his father called him, to become a fearless champion- and that ultimately saved his life.

“Crazy for the Storm” delves into Norman’s complex relationship with his father while telling the story of his plane crash in ’79. Ollestad remembers mandatory surf sessions in waves twice his size and powder missions where he was nearly buried alive and attributes these experiences to his survival

“Why do you make me do this?
Because it’s beautiful when it all comes together.
I don’t think it’s ever beautiful.
One day.
Never.
We’ll see, my father said, Vamanos.”

Ollestad, now a father to eight year old Noah, says “I’m doing the same thing with my son, wanting to share my passions with him, getting out in the water, riding a wave, simple, but there are big rewards.”

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Norman and his son Noah

“My eyes closed as I entered the tube. The groan rumbled. I opened my eyes. An oval window framed the sand spit. The rock spires. The coconut palms. And the groan sucked away and the spinning cavern was silent. The ominous wall had bent and wrapped me in it’s peaceful womb. I was buried inside a thing that could maim or kill me, yet was cuddling me now- I was stretched between panic and bliss. Everything essential, everything formerly invisible, burst forth and pulsed through me. I was there, in that elusive space- the dream world of happiness. (Norman’s first tube ride at age 10 from “Crazy for the Storm”)

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(left) Kelly Slater and Norman Ollestad at Kiels Event (right) Ollestad in Indo

To find out where to catch up with Norman on his book tour or to buy a copy of Crazy for the Storm, visit http://www.crazyforthestorm.com

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